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Advanced wing with advanced technology operation
Article Type: Mini features From: Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology: An International Journal, Volume 80, Issue 3.
The advanced wing with advanced technology operation (AWIATOR) European R&T project lead by airbus has been completed. The project has tested and developed new technologies that will improve the aerodynamic wing performance of future transport aircraft and contribute to the reduction of emissions and noise.
Improving the aerodynamic cruise performance of future aircraft wings has been developed during AWIATOR through the integration of new devices, multi-functional control surfaces and control schemes. Also successfully tested were technologies for decreasing the structural weight of the aircraft by alleviating static and dynamic wing loads, whilst increasing high-lift performance at take-off and landing. Another positive outcome of the research were new more flexible flight procedures for reducing the perceived noise level on the ground.
Large winglets were studied and tested and a concept for a flightworthy pair of winglets was developed. Detailed analysis on the dynamic wing behaviour was carried out and the data was used to enhance integrated design capability, which will enable further improvements of the aerodynamic and structural design of wing tip devices for future aircraft.
Low-noise procedures were investigated which will enable flight paths with the lowest possible noise on the ground. Most of the wing technologies studied in AWIATOR provide additional flexibility for flying alternative approach and departure trajectories. One of these is a combined use of multifunctional control surfaces called Mini Trailing Edge Devices (MiniTEDs) and the most outboard spoilers, to achieve a steeper low-noise approach.
Another outcome of AWIATOR was the development of optimised “vented” spoilers, which have a reduced impact on the horizontal stabiliser of the aircraft and are now available to be used at cruise conditions, namely to increase the steep descend capability.
Passenger comfort during turbulence was also one of the themes of the research. A laser-based Turbulence Sensor Application or “Gust Sensor” was developed and tested during AWIATOR. The sensor screens the flow field up to 200 ft ahead of the aircraft, which provides sufficient time for the flight control computer to autonomously react on turbulence and gusts by deflecting the control surfaces on the wing to counteract the loads caused by the turbulence.
AWIATOR also tested new technologies for measuring and manipulating wake vortices that will contribute to future wing designs creating smaller wake vortices, hence allowing shorter aircraft separation distances and a more effective use of airspace. During the project, significant progress was made in the testing, measuring and manipulating of wake vortices following extensive numerical simulation, ground and flight tests.
The results of AWIATOR will be applicable to all types of aircraft and will be of benefit to future aircraft programmes. The lessons learned from the project will also be used as a basis for the major European R&T programme, the joint technology initiative called “Clean Sky” which aims to radically improve the impact of air transport on the environment, while strengthening the competitiveness of the European aeronautics industry.
Flight-testing was performed on the Airbus A340-300 test bed aircraft in three major campaigns with a total of more than 140 flight test hours in 45 flights, with some additional flight-testing on the VFW614 test aircraft of the German Aerospace Research centre (DLR). Major modifications were made to the A340-300 to accommodate an advanced flap system, large winglets, improved inboard spoilers and a gust sensor.
AWIATOR was a five-year, Airbus-led, 80 million project part funded by the European Commission and was completed in 2007. The project grouped 23 partners from the European aeronautic sector, research instructions and universities and focused on developing and evaluating new technologies to improve the aerodynamic performance of future transport aircraft wings. The AWIATOR technology concepts were chosen specifically to contribute towards meeting the goals of the 2020 Vision set out by the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe (ACARE) for reducing emissions and noise.